Consequences for Cognitive Psychology

Christopher Mole

in Attention Is Cognitive Unison

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780195384529
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199872817 | DOI:

Series: Philosophy of Mind Series

Consequences for Cognitive Psychology

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Cognitive psychology’s attempts to explain attention typically proceed via experiments intended to identify the processes that constitute attention’s simplest instances. They therefore carry commitments concerning attention’s metaphysics. The cognitive unison theory entails that those commitments are mistaken and that the explanatory import of psychology’s discoveries needs to be reconstrued. This does not require the unison theorist to argue against a well-established orthodoxy. In fact, there is no established orthodoxy among psychologists as to how the explanatory import of process-identifying research should be understood. Psychologists agree that attention cannot be identified with a particular localizable brain process, but they take a variety of positions on what the attention/brain-process relation is. The unison theory’s account of that relation diagnoses errors in certain methodologies (since it entails that process-level properties are poor inductive properties of attention), but it returns a positive verdict on work that attempts to explain attention by reference to mechanisms of biased competition.

Keywords: biased competition; cognitive psychology; explanation; induction; metaphysics

Chapter.  8806 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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